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Presentation

The Truth About Pearl Harbor: A Debate


     
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Contents:

Introductory Remarks:

On December 7, 1941, U.S. military installations at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii were attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Could this tragic event that resulted in over 3,000 Americans killed and injured in a single two-hour attack have been averted?

After 16 years of uncovering documents through the Freedom of Information Act, journalist and historian Robert Stinnett charges in his book, Day of Deceit, that U.S. government leaders at the highest level not only knew that a Japanese attack was imminent, but that they had deliberately engaged in policies intended to provoke the attack, in order to draw a reluctant, peace-loving American public into a war in Europe for good or ill. In contrast, historian and author Stephen Budiansky (see his book, Battle of Wits) believes that such charges are entirely unfounded and are based on misinterpretations of the historical record.

It’s been often said that “Truth is the first casualty of war.” Historians and policy experts now know that the official government claims, including those made by U.S. Presidents, that led to the Spanish-American War, World War I, Vietnam War, Gulf War, and other conflicts were deliberate misrepresentations of the facts in order to rally support for wars that the general public would otherwise not support. Was this also the case regarding the tragedy at Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II—or are such charges false? We are very pleased to provide a debate between these two distinguished experts.

Presentation by Robert B. Stinnett (“The Pearl Harbor Deception”):

Two questions about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor have ignited a controversy that has burned for 60 years: Did U.S. naval cryptographers crack the Japanese naval codes before the attack? Did Japanese warships and their commanding admirals break radio silence at sea before the attack?

If the answer to both is “no,” then Pearl Harbor was indeed a surprise attack described by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a “Day of Infamy.” The integrity of the U.S. government regarding Pearl Harbor remains solid.

But if the answer is “yes,” then hundreds of books, articles, movies, and TV documentaries based on the “no” answer—and the integrity of the federal government—go down the drain. If the Japanese naval codes were intercepted, decoded, and translated into English by U.S. naval cryptographers prior to Pearl Harbor, then the Japanese naval attacks on American Pacific military bases were known in advance among the highest levels of the American government.

During the 60 years, the truthful answers were secreted in bomb-proof vaults, withheld from two congressional Pearl Harbor investigations and from the American people. As recently as 1995, the Joint Congressional Investigation conducted by Sen. Strom Thurmond and Rep. Floyd Spence, was denied access to a naval storage vault in Crane, Indiana, containing documents that could settle the questions.

Americans were told of U.S. cryptographers’ success in cracking pre–Pearl Harbor Japanese diplomatic codes, but not a word has been officially uttered about their success in cracking Japanese military codes.

In the mid-1980s I learned that none of the hundreds of thousands of Japanese military messages obtained by the U.S. monitor stations prior to Pearl Harbor were introduced or discussed during the congressional investigation of 1945-46. Determined to penetrate the secrets of Pearl Harbor, I filed Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests with the US Navy. Navy officials in Washington released a few pre-Pearl Harbor documents to me in 1985. Not satisfied by the minuscule release, I continued filing FOIAs.

Finally in 1993, the U.S. Naval Security Group Command, the custodian of the Crane Files, agreed to transfer the records to National Archives in Washington, D.C. In the winter of 1993-94 the files were transported by truck convoy to a new government facility built on the College Park campus of the University of Maryland inside the Washington Beltway, named Archives II. Mr. Clarence Lyons, then head of the Military Reference Branch, released the first batch of Crane Files to me in the Steny Hoyer Research Center at Archives II in January 1995.

Apparently, the pre-Pearl Harbor records had not been seen or reviewed since 1941. Though refiled in pH-safe archival boxes by Lyons’ staff, some of the Crane documents were covered with dust, tightly bunched together in the boxes and tied with unusual waxed twine. Lyons confirmed the records were received from the U.S. Navy in that condition.

It took me a year to evaluate the records. The information revealed in the files was astonishing. It disclosed a Pearl Harbor story hidden from the public. I believed the story should be told to the American people. The editors of Simon & Schuster/The Free Press published Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1999.

Day of Deceit was well received by media book reviews and the on-line booksellers, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com, earning a 70 percent public approval rating. Day of Deceit continues among the top ten bestsellers in the non-fiction Pearl Harbor book category, according to Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

About 30 percent of the reviews have discounted the book’s revelations. The leaders of the dispute include Stephen Budiansky, Edward Drea, and David Kahn, all of whom have authored books or articles on code breaking. To bolster their pre-Pearl Harbor theories, the trio violated journalistic ethics and distorted the U.S. Navy’s pre-Pearl Harbor paper trail. Their efforts cannot be ignored. The trio has close ties to the National Security Agency, the overseer of U.S. naval communications files. Kahn has appeared before NSA seminars. The NSA has not honored my FOIA requests to disclose honorariums paid the seminar participants but has released records that confirm Kahn has been a participant.

Immediately after Day of Deceit appeared in bookstores in 1999, NSA began withdrawing pre-Pearl Harbor documents from the Crane Files housed in Archives II. This means the government decided to continue 60 years of Pearl Harbor censorship. As of January 2002, over two dozen NSA withdrawal notices have triggered the removal of Pearl Harbor documents from public inspection.

The number of pages in the withdrawn documents appears to be in the hundreds. Among the records withdrawn are those of Admiral Harold R. Stark, the 1941 Chief of Naval Operations, as well as crypto records authored by Commander Joseph J. Rochefort, the chief cryptographer for the Pacific Fleet at the time of Pearl Harbor. Under the Crane File transfer agreement with National Archives, NSA has the legal right to withdraw any document based on national defense concerns.

Concurrent with the NSA withdrawals, Budiansky, with the aid of Kahn and Drea, began a two-year media campaign to discredit the paper trail of the U.S. naval documents that form the backbone of Day of Deceit. One of the most egregious examples of ethical violations appeared in an article by Kahn published in the New York Review of Books on November 2, 2000. In that article, Kahn attempted to bolster his contention that Japanese admirals and warships observed radio silence while en route to attack American Pacific bases. Kahn broke basic journalism ethics and rewrote a U.S. Naval Communication Summary prepared by Commander Rochefort at his crypto center located in the Pearl Harbor Naval Yard.

About 1,000 intercepted Japanese naval radio messages formed the basis of each Daily Summary written by Rochefort and his staff. The Japanese communication intelligence data contained in the messages was summarized and delivered daily to Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet. Rochefort’s summary of November 25, 1941 (Hawaii time) was not to Kahn’s liking. It revealed the Commander Carriers of the Imperial Japanese Navy were not observing radio silence but were in “extensive communications” with other Japanese naval forces whose admirals directly commanded the forces involved in the Pearl Harbor attack. Because of the International Dateline, the “extensive communications” mentioned in the summary took place on November 26, 1941, Japan time, the exact day the Japanese carrier force began its journey to Hawaii.

In its entirety the Rochefort summary reads: “FOURTH FLEET—CinC. Fourth Fleet is still holding extensive communications with the commander Submarine Fleet, the forces at Jaluit and Commander Carriers. His other communications are with the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Base Forces.”

The meaning of the summary is unequivocal: The commanders of the powerful Japanese invasion, submarine, and carrier forces did not observe radio silence as they maneuvered toward U.S. bases in Hawaii, Wake, and Guam Islands in the Central Pacific. Instead they used radio transmitters aboard their flagships and coordinated strategy and tactics with each other.

The summary corroborates earlier findings by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland. In the late 1970s, Toland interviewed personnel and obtained U.S. naval documents from San Francisco’s Twelfth Naval District that disclosed that the “extensive communications” were intercepted by the radio direction finders of the U.S. Navy’s West Coast Communications Intelligence Network. Doubleday published Toland’s account in 1982 as Infamy: Pearl Harbor and its Aftermath.

Yet in his NYRoB article Kahn deleted portions of the Rochefort summary in the middle of the first sentence, profoundly diminishing its significance. Kahn’s version: “Fourth Fleet is still holding extensive communications with the Commander Submarine Fleet.”

Kahn violated basic journalism rules by deleting crucial words and not using ellipsis to indicate a deletion. When I cited these ethical violations to the editors of the NYRoB, Kahn offered an excuse and implied that Rochefort’s summary was too long. “I had to condense my review,” he wrote.

Kahn probably believes his deletion was insignificant because he denies that the Commander Carriers were involved in the Pearl Harbor attack. “The force that attacked Hawaii was not that of the Commander Carriers but the First Air Fleet,” he wrote in his reply to my Letter to the Editor of the NYRoB (February 8, 2001). Kahn revealed his ignorance of the Japanese naval organization. The First Air Fleet operated under Commander Carriers, that is, Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, who was in charge of the entire Hawaii Operation.

Captain A. James McCollum, USNR (Ret), who served in San Francisco’s Twelfth Naval District intelligence office (and later on the intelligence staff of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz) accused Kahn of committing “journalistic crimes.” “That critic, David Kahn, seems to have deliberately distorted some facts and even altered quotations...,” McCollum wrote in his letter to the editors of the NYRoB on February 14, 2001. The letter was never published.

Stephen Budiansky continued his media blitz in the Wall Street Journal. In a December 27, 2001 Letter to the Editor of the Journal, Budiansky praised Kahn as “...widely regarded as the world’s leading authority on the history of code breaking...” Then in following paragraphs, Budiansky mimicked Kahn and misreported the facts concerning the U.S. naval monitor station on Corregidor, known as CAST. He challenged the Day of Deceit account and wrote that CAST was located in Cavite, Philippines.

Budiansky’s errors involving CAST reveal a poor understanding of U.S. naval communications intelligence operations. CAST was temporarily located at the Cavite Naval Base in 1936, then moved to Mariveles on the Bataan Peninsula. In October 1940, the station was relocated to Corregidor. The new quarters were located in an underground crypto center carved from the rock of Corregidor. CAST remained on the rock until the spring of 1942 when advancing Japanese troops forced its removal to Australia. Budiansky did not differentiate between the 1940-41 U.S. naval broadcast radio center at Cavite and the U.S. navy cryptographic monitor station on Corregidor.

The mistakes of the Budiansky-Drea-Kahn team concerning Station CAST worsen.

In the same Wall Street Journal edition, Edward J. Drea, a retired U.S. Army historian, also wrote a misleading account of the crypto operations at CAST in November 1941. Mr. Drea challenged a CAST report dated November 16, 1941, by its commanding officer Lieutenant John M. Lietwiler who reported to Washington that his staff was “current” in intercepting, decoding, and translating the Japanese navy’s Operation Code.

Lietwiler was a highly trained crypto expert in deciphering the Japanese navy’s main operation code known to Japan in the fall of 1941 as the Kaigun Ango-sho D, Ransuhyo nana (Navy Code Book D, random numbers table seven). He spent 1940 and most of 1941 learning the principles of decoding Code Book D from Agnes Meyer Driscoll, the brilliant Chief Civilian Cryptanalyst for the U.S. Navy. Ms. Driscoll was the first American to discover the solution of Code Book D, soon after Japan introduced it in June 1939.

Upon completing the Code Book D crypto course, Lietwiler was dispatched to CAST with the latest decoding details of Table Seven. He arrived and took command of CAST in September 1941. Lietwiler’s expertise and devotion to his crypto duty meant nothing to Drea. In his letter, Drea demoted Lieutenant Lietwiler and described him as a “1941 writer.”

Challenging my interpretation of Lietwiler’s letter, Drea states: “Nowhere in the cited communications is the Japanese naval code mentioned.” Drea is correct in the narrowest sense. To understand that Lietwiler was discussing the Japanese naval operations code requires a broader context.

Mr. Drea failed to comprehend Lietwiler’s technical crypto language used in the letter. It was addressed to Lietwiler’s counterpart in Washington, D.C., Lieutenant Lee W. Parke, another of the U.S. Navy’s brilliant cryptographers. Parke had devised a crypto machine that automatically decoded the additive/subtractive columnar tables of Table Seven. Parke called his invention the JEEP IV and sent it to CAST by officer courier. It arrived on Corregidor on October 6, 1941, via the armed U.S. naval transport U.S.S. Henderson.

The construction of JEEP IV was specifically authorized by Rear Admiral Royal Ingersoll, Acting Chief of Naval Operations. In a memo dated October 4, 1940, Ingersoll wrote, referring to Code Book D: “an additive key cipher is employed in this code, and, although the method of recovery is well defined, the process is a laborious one, requiring from an hour to several days for each message. A machine is under construction which will aide in the mechanical part of the solution, but it must be accepted that current information will seldom be available immediately...” The Ingersoll memo directly connects the Lietwiler memo to the Japanese naval operations code.

Lietwiler refers explicitly to JEEP IV in the letter and adds that his Crypto Yeoman Albert Myers Jr., bypassed JEEP IV and was able to “walk across” the many columnar tables of Code Book D. Readers of the Wall Street Journal should know that Code Book D used columnar random number Table Seven in the fall of 1941. If Mr. Drea had done more crypto homework, he would have known the purpose of JEEP IV. It is fully spelled out in U.S. Navy files. JEEP IV is derived from Parke’s unit whose secret navy crypto designator was GYP (phonetic = jeep). But he failed to understand the esoteric language used by the two code breakers.

I could point out more errors by the trio, but I will limit myself to one more. They refer to errors in dates in Day of Deceit. The so-called date “errors” they cite are not “errors” but are related to the geography of the International Date Line. Like many easterners who have never been west of the Hudson River, the trio does not realize that November 25 in Hawaii is November 26 in Japan. The mid-ocean date change between America and Japan is known throughout the world. It is the result of geographers establishing the Date Line in the Mid-Pacific. America’s day begins in Guam, not New York.

Presentation by Stephen Budiansky:

Robert Stinnett is hardly the first author, and I am sure he will not be the last, to advance a sensationalistic conspiracy theory concerning the Pearl Harbor attack. It is no surprise that conspiracy theories accusing President Roosevelt of treacherously concealing advance warnings of the Japanese attack find a ready market among a certain segment of the book-buying public. But if Mr. Stinnett expects his arguments to be taken seriously in more serious forums, he has an obligation to address the lapses in logic, evidence, and basic scholarly practice—notably the rather basic requirement that original documents not be misquoted to create a false impression of what they actually say—that knowledgeable historians have criticized his book for. So far Mr. Stinnett has failed to answer any of these criticisms or deal with the mass of documentary evidence and testimony that directly refutes his central contention.

Historians who have reviewed Mr. Stinnett’s book have been rightly critical of his work on several grounds. David Kahn, whose classic book The Codebreakers is widely acknowledged as the definitive work on cryptologic history, reviewed Mr. Stinnett’s book in the New York Review of Books and called it the “most irrational” of the many Pearl Harbor conspiracy books yet written. Mr. Kahn pointed out in devastating detail how Mr. Stinnett undermines his own case again and again by making elementary mistakes on fundamental points upon which his conspiracy theory depends: Mr. Stinnett gets crucial dates wrong; he gets basic cryptologic facts wrong; he miscites and misquotes archival documents and takes them out of their plain context. Archivists at the National Archives and Records Administration who have tried to locate documents Mr. Stinnett cites in his book have been unable to do so. His method of citing archival records is indeed so obscure that it is unlikely anyone who sought to verify Mr. Stinnett’s claims as to these documents’ content and context would be able to do so in most instances.

A far worse failing of Mr. Stinnett’s methodology is his practice of misrepresenting—or more often, simply ignoring—the overwhelming body of evidence that directly challenges his specific assertions. Mr. Stinnett has yet to even acknowledge the existence of the substantial, contemporaneous documentary evidence which shows unequivocally that the crucial Japanese naval codes were not successfully broken by the United States before the Pearl Harbor attack—evidence, in other words, that directly refutes the central claim of his book that the United States had, through cryptologic means, obtained secret advance knowledge of the Japanese plans. The documentary evidence that he does cite in his book is frequently taken out of context or quoted incompletely or inaccurately in an attempt to make it seem as if it supports his conspiratorial theories, when in fact it does nothing of the kind. For example:

  • He portrays records that reflect nothing more than the fact that certain coded Japanese messages were intercepted by U.S. radio operators as if they were evidence that the messages were also decrypted and read by U.S. intelligence.

  • He presents decrypts and translations of pre-Pearl Harbor Japanese messages that were made by U.S. intelligence only in 1945 and 1946—after the war was over and the U.S. codebreakers had time to go back and study them in light of their subsequent cryptologic success—and tries to pass them off as decrypts and translations made at the time the signals were originally transmitted, before the Pearl Harbor attack.

  • He seriously misquotes a late November 1941 U.S. Navy radio intelligence report—the words he places in quotation marks are altered significantly from the words that actually appear in the document he claims to be citing—to create the impression that the Japanese carrier fleet heading for Pearl Harbor broke radio silence, and thus could have been located by U.S. radio direction-finding stations. The document in fact states only that another Japanese naval unit (not part of the Pearl Harbor task force) had transmitted a message or messages to the carrier fleet. This is completely consistent with the testimony of Japanese naval officers involved in the Pearl Harbor attack, who have stated that they maintained strict radio silence.

  • He uses selective quotation to make it appear that U.S. Navy personnel in the Philippines had already broken the main Japanese naval operations code in November 1941 when in fact the statement actually refers to the (as of then far from successful) American efforts to recover the 50,000 five-digit numerals in the code’s key book, which first had to be reconstructed before any message texts could be deciphered.

Mr. Stinnett’s response to all of these criticisms has been to simply ignore their substance. When challenged at public forums where he has appeared to promote his book, the sum total of his defense against his critics has been to assert—literally—“I’m right and they’re wrong.”

His other tactic has been to hurl wild, reckless, and unsubstantiated ad hominem accusations: his critics have “violated journalistic ethics,” or have “close ties to the National Security Agency.” From his book and his other statements it is clear that Mr. Stinnett appears to believe that the NSA, as the successor agency to the World War II codebreaking agencies, has continued to perpetrate a massive conspiracy to hide the supposed truth about the Pearl Harbor attack. Thus, according to his particular logic, anyone who challenges his conclusions must apparently be a shill or paid minion of U.S. intelligence.

I would refer anyone who is interested in exploring in greater detail the historical validity of Mr. Stinnett’s arguments to David Kahn’s review in the New York Review of Books (“Did Roosevelt Know?” November 2, 2000); Professor John C. Zimmerman’s review essay in Intelligence and National Security (“Pearl Harbor Revisionism: Robert Stinnett’s Day of Deceit,” Summer 2002); the articles in Cryptologia by Philip Jacobsen (“A Cryptologic Veteran’s Analysis of Day of Deceit,” April 2000) and myself in the same issue (“Closing the Book on Pearl Harbor”); my article in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings (“Too Late for Pearl Harbor,” December 1999); and my book Battle of Wits (Touchstone, 2001).

As anyone who reads these sources will discover, Mr. Stinnett’s frequent, pat answer to any and all criticisms—that his critics are relying on “a 1950s version of events”—is simply wrong. The major evidence that refutes Mr. Stinnett’s claim that the main Japanese naval code was broken before Pearl Harbor (and that a government “coverup” continues) comes from archival documents that were declassified in 1999, which I have described in full in my above-mentioned publications. These documents consist of contemporaneous reports made by U.S. codebreakers at the time in question, in particular a series of date-stamped, month-by-month progress reports filed by the U.S. Navy codebreaking bureau throughout 1940 and 1941. These give a monthly tally of precisely how many code groups had been recovered in every code system being studied at the time. They show unambiguously that only a very small percentage of code group recoveries had been made in the Japanese naval operations code by the time of the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941, nowhere near enough to produce useful intelligence from the messages themselves.

Reviewing the large body of recently declassified materials in the National Archives, Philip Jacobsen has located the earliest of the actual decoded messages that U.S. codebreakers were able to produce from their cryptologic attack on this code system. The decoded messages are dated and sequentially numbered. Decrypt #1 bears a decryption and translation date of January 8, 1942—in other words, a full month after the Pearl Harbor attack.

This documentary evidence thus fully corroborates the testimony of the U.S. naval officers who were involved in this work, who have long stated that this key Japanese naval code was not readable until early 1942. As Duane Whitlock, who worked at the U.S. codebreaking station in the Philippines, testified: I can attest from first hand experience that as of 1 December 1941 the recovery of JN-25B [the Japanese naval operations code] had not progressed to the point that it was productive of any appreciable intelligence—not even enough to be pieced together by traffic analysis.” (Traffic analysis is the procedure whereby encoded signals that have not been deciphered are analyzed to see if any clues can be extracted about enemy movements or intentions by the pattern, frequency, or place of origin of the transmissions.) “The reason that not one single JN-25 decrypt made prior to Pearl Harbor has ever been found or declassified,” Mr. Whitlock continued, “is not due to any insidious coverup…it is due quite simply to the fact that no such decrypt ever existed. It simply was not within the realm of our combined cryptographic capability to produce a useable decrypt at that particular juncture.”

The commander of the Philippines station, Rudolph Fabian, stated similarly about the lack of pre-Pearl Harbor success on JN-25B despite collaboration with British codebreakers in Singapore: “We were exchanging values [with the British], both code and cipher recoveries, but we had not developed either to the point where we could read enemy intercepts.”

(It is important to note that the Japanese high-level diplomatic code, which the U.S. code named Purple, was being broken by U.S. intelligence at this time, as is well known. But Purple messages contained no information on naval operations or any suggestion that an attack on Pearl Harbor was imminent or planned. I should also mention here that Mr. Stinnett has some tortured conspiracy theory that attempts to portray the designation “JN-25” as part of the “cover up.” In fact the documentary record is absolutely clear that the main Japanese Navy operational code, which Mr. Stinnett refers to as the “5-Num” system or “Code Book D,” is exactly the same code system that from 1942 on was usually designated by the U.S. as JN-25. Everyone in the U.S. Navy who worked on it subsequently referred to it as JN-25, regardless of the several different earlier designations that were used.)

As for Mr. Stinnett’s wild charge of my having violated “journalistic ethics,” when pressed to substantiate that accusation Mr. Stinnett produced a single example: that I wrote that the U.S. radio intercept station in the Philippines was located at Cavite as of October 1941, and was only relocated to the tunnels on nearby Corregidor Island just prior to the Japanese attack, whereas Mr. Stinnett believes that the station’s move to Corregidor had already taken place by October 1941. His source was a U.S. Navy historical summary; mine was oral history testimony of people who worked there as well as logs and messages dating from November 1941 (including some quoted by Mr. Stinnett himself in his book) that refer to the Philippine codebreaking station as “Cavite.” I would, however, be the first to admit that oral history evidence may be mistaken and that the references to “Cavite” in November 1941 may have reflected old habit rather than current reality. This difference between us, by the way, has absolutely no bearing on any of Mr. Stinnett’s arguments about pre-Pearl Harbor codebreaking, one way or the other. It is a trivial historical footnote of little, if any, significance.

So how then, exactly, does this constitute a “violation of journalistic ethics” on my part? The justification Mr. Stinnett offers for making this most serious charge is that since, in his view, I am in error on this point, I have therefore failed to take due care to ascertain the truth, which, he says, is a violation of “ethics.” This is a fascinating argument, for if it is correct then Mr. Stinnett is by his own definition one of the greatest ethical malefactors in the history of journalism, given the number of factual errors, misinterpretations, out-of-context quotations, misquotations, sloppy citations, and refusal to consider contrary evidence that his book contains. I would not make that accusation myself, however. I am content to point out merely that he is one of the most mistaken writers in the history of journalism.

Finally, as ridiculous and offensive as Mr. Stinnett’s accusations of my having “close ties” to U.S. intelligence agencies are, I will nonetheless state for the record that I have no financial, legal, contractual, professional, personal, moral, political, or family associations or ties to any U.S. intelligence agencies, nor have I ever had any such associations or ties, nor have I ever been influenced by them in anything I have ever written on this, or any other subject.

Reply by Robert B. Stinnett:

Stephen Budiansky fails to answer the newest evidence that drastically alters the three main questions of Pearl Harbor: (1) Prior to December 7, 1941, did the U.S. break the Japanese operations code known as Code Book D, (2) did the Japanese fleet commanders break radio silence and (3) reveal their locations to U.S. Navy radio direction finders? Mr. Budiansky’s responds with 1950-era media cover stories and assures his readers that the answer is “no” to all three questions.

However, Mr. Budiansky is directly contradicted on all three counts by National Archive records, including for example, the 1941 records of the U.S. Navy’s principal Far East monitor facility, Station CAST on Corregidor Island. CAST was “current” in intercepting, decoding and translating Code Book D as of November 16, 1941, Manila time, according to Lieutenant John Lietwiler, commanding officer. In addition, Lietwiler’s staff obtained radio direction finder bearings on the Japanese forces en route to Pearl Harbor and identified the warships.

Mr. Budiansky wrongly identifying Station CAST’s commanding officer at the time as Rudolph Fabian and places the facility on Cavite Island in Manila Bay when it was on Corregidor, and identifies the Japanese operation code solved by Lietwiler’s group in 1941 as JN-25. By focusing on the wrong designator for Japan‘s naval code, Mr. Budiansky steers his readers in the wrong direction and prevents their accurate examination of Code Book D.

Lieutenant Fabian was relieved as commanding officer by Lietwiler in September 1941. Fabian, whose wife was seriously ill, was awaiting a return to the U.S. mainland when Japan bombed the Philippines on December 8, 1941 (Manila time). From Mr. Kahn’s claims, Mr. Budiansky charges date errors to me, but he is the one who is in error. He is apparently not aware of the International Date Line in the mid-Pacific which advances a full day from U.S. time zones. America’s morning begins in Guam, not in Washington, D.C. The November 16th Manila date listed above corresponds to November 15 in the U.S.

The Fabian, JN-25, and Cavite media cover stories originated with the Congressional Investigation of 1945-46 and were successfully used to derail an accurate Pearl Harbor inquiry. Mr. Budiansky won’t let go of these stories even though as detailed in my book, Day of Deceit, recent Freedom of Information Act releases disprove their accuracy.

Reply by Stephen Budiansky:

I have already discussed the considerable evidence, including many newly released archival documents, which confirms that the Japanese attack force did not break radio silence and that the main Japanese naval code was not broken by U.S. intelligence before Pearl Harbor. This is not a “cover story” but a thoroughly documented historical conclusion.

Mr. Stinnett cites the Lietwiler memorandum as proof that Station CAST was “current” in reading messages transmitted in the Japanese naval operations code in fall 1941. Here Mr. Stinnett continues his habit of incompletely quoting original documents. In fact Lietwiler refers not to the decryption of current traffic but rather to the massive and far from complete effort to reconstruct the code system itself, specifically the “current” version of its huge key book—a series of 50,000 random numbers that Japanese code clerks used to further disguise encoded messages before transmission. Far from showing that messages were being decoded by CAST at this time, it confirms that CAST in fact had a long way to go before any messages could be decoded at all. CAST personnel have stated repeatedly that their work was not far enough along to read any messages for intelligence value before Pearl Harbor. Are we to assume that they are all participants in the “cover up” too?

I am frankly at a loss as to how Mr. Stinnett can accuse me in one sentence of being mistaken in referring to Rudolph Fabian as commander of CAST and then acknowledge two sentences later that he was commander of CAST. I am not sure what Mr. Stinnett is referring to in his comments about the International Dateline, but they have no relation to any statements I have made here or elsewhere.

Mr. Stinnett’s focus on these few trivialities while ignoring the gaping lapses in logic and accuracy in his own case speaks for itself. He has been caught red-handed misquoting original sources to build his spurious case but his only response is to hurl anew the charge of “cover up.” Until he starts dealing with evidence as it actually exists, and not as it is misquoted and misinterpreted to fit his theories, it is hard to take his claims seriously.

END OF EVENT


Robert B. Stinnett is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif., and the author of the book, Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor (Free Press). For further information, see the Pearl Harbor Archive.






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